REVIEW of Rannels, Melissa; Alvarado, Melissa; and Hope Meng. Sew Subversive: Down & Dirty DIY for the Fabulous Fashionista. Taunton, 2006. 186 p. $14.95 Paperback. 978-1-56158-809-1. Resources. Index.
[VOYA codes:] 3Q 2P S A/YA
If teens think of sewing as a chore, this upbeat title will change their minds. The pages are colorful, with bold photographs of ‘fab’ creations modeled by co-owners of an “urban sewing studio.” The sassy jargon (fabric’s “party side”), realistic advice (“Try sewing barefoot”), encouragement (“ . . .it’s sewing, not surgery!”), and energizing projects will make readers want to sew and shout, “I made this and it’s so cool!”
Including “subversive” in the title appears to be a ploy to attract readers rather than indicative of the book’s theme, which celebrates individuality and creativity. As a compact yet detailed sewing manual, it includes basics (such as needle threading), advanced techniques (such as pin-tucking), and easy-to-follow drawings. As a guidebook, it can inspire fashion design ideas and inventive clothing recycling. The jam-packed ‘Resources’ have information about storefront and online suppliers, sewing organizations, and DIY websites.
Problems with this title include some lengthy sections in faint typeface, and unrealistically short project times. Also, young-adult librarians should be aware of stereotypical clichés about boyfriends and “hot panties,” and may need to make collection decisions concerning frivolous references to partying with alcohol. If held in an adult collection, this innovative title might be out of browsing range for creative young ‘fashionistas.’ And, what about the guys? It would be great to have a Sew Subversive that would speak to them as well.
This title will contribute to an appealing collection of fabric-arts materials for mature older teens. Team it with hands-on help from a sewing instructor or sewing group, as well as titles such as Sara Trail’s Sew With Sara (C & T, 2009), Ellen Warwick’s Injeanuity (Kids Can Press, 2006), and CosmoGIRL! Make it Yourself (Hearst Books, 2007).